West Byron not in the public interest: council staff

Harvest estate
Article from 5/7/2017 Byron Shire Echo: https://www.echo.net.au/2017/07/west-byron-not-public-interest-council-staff/

An extraordinary Council meeting to discuss the West Byron development has been called for Thursday July 6 from 4pm at the Station Street chambers in Mullumbimby.

It comes as residents and some councillors met Monday night at the Byron Community Centre to work out a strategy against.

The Echo understands their proposal includes a satirical West Byron advertising campaign.

A detailed report by senior Council staff member Shannon Burt, who heads the Sustainable Environment and Economy department, has concluded that the development, as presented, is not in the public interest.

The land is located on a large parcel of land opposite the industrial estate on Ewingsdale Road, and has been the subject of strong public opposition over many years owing to environmental and traffic factors.

Foisted development

Despite that opposition, state government bureaucrats and the planning minister have recently forced the proposal through on behalf of the developers. This includes overriding and amending planning policies.   

Particular issues that face the development according to Ms Burt are, ‘traffic and biodiversity,’ which, ‘have the potential to result in significant environmental and social impacts.’

Queensland-based company Villa World, in partnership with Sydney-based developer Terry Agnew, are aiming to subdivide the first section into 290 lots that will provide 330 to 360 dwellings.

It is expected to be the largest suburban project for Byron Shire in a generation.

While Byron Shire Council is the consent authority, the Northern Region Joint Planning Panel (JRPP) has the function of determining the application owing to the cost of construction exceeding $20m.

In Ms Burt’s report, she suggests Council request ‘the JRPP to hold a public briefing meeting after the exhibition has ended, and invite any person who made a submission to present, before the assessment report is finalised.’

Throughout her report, Ms Burt points to planning inconsistencies, including ‘consent has not been provided for most of the lots associated with the later stages.’

She says there is no owners’ consent for works on Crown Land and Council-maintained road reserve on Melaleuca Drive.

The application contains detailed information regarding the stage-one component of the application, she writes, ‘but no information is provided to enable a proper assessment of the concept plan for the whole of the development.’

Ms Burt says that given Council has recently adopted the West Byron DCP, ‘The applicants could, if they chose, now withdraw the current staged DA application and resubmit the stage-one component only. At this time, they have not done so.’

Massive fill required

Additionally a total of 168,800m3 of fill will need to be imported for the stage-one development and the application indicates, ‘that fill material will be obtained from local quarries.’

She writes, ‘No information is provided to indicate that the required quantities are available locally in the timeframes required, and no information regarding numbers of trucks, haul routes or other potential impacts of bringing that quantity of fill to the site.’

There is also ‘no indication given for total fill amount for overall concept plan.’

Ms Burt also disputes the developer’s assessment report that concludes that a Koala Management Plan (KPoM) is not required.

No koala plan

She says, ‘Each of the areas of vegetation should be looked at individually to determine whether there is more than 15 per cent of koala food trees in that stand of vegetation.’

As for biobanking, which is the removal of sensitive and rare ecological areas in exchange for ‘credits’, Ms Burt says there is ‘no agreement in place to identify where and how those credits will be provided’.

Byron Residents’ Group spokesperson and councillor Cate Coorey is calling on residents to get involved and come to Thursday’s meeting.

She said, ‘We have to let Council and the JRPP know what the community thinks about this ugly, overdeveloped suburbia being dumped on this sensitive site.’

The West Byron DA is on exhibition until July 12 and is available at http://bit.ly/2taUKg2.

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